By: Caroline Fleming

The opening of a new university in the heart of Tauranga is injecting new blood and new life into the CBD, say city leaders and workers.

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger was among the dignitaries at the opening of the new University of Waikato’s new Durham St campus yesterday.

More than 200 people took part in the formalities, including Bolger who is chancellor of the new campus, and vice chancellor Neil Quigley.

Quigley said the number of students in Tauranga were roughly 30 per cent up from last year due to the opening of the new campus.

This would definitely add to the life of the central city, as students walk, eat and take public transport, he said.

More than 900 students are expected to take on tertiary study at the new campus, along with close to 100 staff.

Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless, a graduate of Waikato University in the late 1970s, said the new campus had the potential to “change the face of the city” in many ways.

This included the presence of staff and students in the Tauranga CBD, the upgrading of public facilities around the campus, and the potential for it to become a “hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurialism”.

Brownless said a campus could serve as an “anchor” in the city in the same way a department store was the anchor in a mall.

Murray Clode, of Macandmor Art Space, said he noticed a change in demographics since students had been welcomed into their new campus.

“There has been a real increase in younger people coming into the CBD and as more classes are opened up I would expect that to change even more,” he said.

Clode said he has lived in areas where new universities and polytechnics have had a huge impact on the vibrancy of the cities.

“The immediate effect they have had on the communities is just amazing, with the vibrancy and energy that that group of people bring,” he said.

“It is not just because of their age, but it is because of the forward thinking of the designers that have a wide view of the future.”

Owner of Dry Dock cafe in the Tauranga CBD, Sandra Johnson, said she had not noticed much of a change yet, but she was expecting a big change of atmosphere with the influx of students in the city.

Longstanding CBD retailer Jensen Zeng, of AJ’s Lotto store, said he believed the university would be beneficial for the city centre, with more people to fill up the CBD.

Zeng said young people would create a good vibe for the city centre.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times

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